According to Vidhya, a true measure of women in tech is to count the women who create and innovate and are regarded as subject matter experts.

Women in Tech 247ais Vidhya Duthaluru on how technical expertise holds the key to equality
Atom Women in Tech Friday, March 16, 2018 - 09:28

Women in Tech is a special series of stories of women who have pushed boundaries to make it big in the Indian tech space, which is still largely a male domain. In this series, we ask them what it’s like to be a woman in Indian tech, the challenges they face and lessons they can share from their journey with aspiring women technologists.

For [24]’s data sciences head in Bengaluru Vidhya Duthaluru, challenges seem like small hurdles, because her passion for data sciences and artificial intelligence (AI) is not just what brought her here, but also what keeps her going.

[24] is a customer acquisition and engagement solutions company. It enables companies to anticipate and act on consumer intent across channels, and significantly reduces the time taken to deliver successful outcomes.

With a PhD in speech and speaker recognition, Vidhya is a part of a relatively small group of people who has deployed speech recognition commercially. She began her career over 20 years ago, and has been part of the journey and a witness to all the technology improvements over these years in several languages, including local languages.

Ask her about challenges and she would rather talk about milestones. Because her drive to keep innovating and push the boundaries of AI and data sciences has been so strong that challenges seem like small hurdles to stop her from achieving what she wants to.

“I have faced some problems - from being one of the few women in engineering courses and persisting to earn a PhD in an engineering field. As I have grown in my role and responsibilities, there have been many instances where I have been the only woman in technical discussions. On a few occasions, I have had to address some scepticism to prove that I am equal to, or better than others. Having said that, I believe that my passion for research and advancement of the field has been duly acknowledged by colleagues and industry peers,” Vidhya says.

Vidhya believes that we are certainly seeing a positive trend with more women pursuing technology-related degrees and getting into the tech sector. However, she admits that this is not enough.

“A lot needs to be done to truly see women take off in tech roles.  Most women who enter tech companies at the entry-level move into project management, business and marketing roles related to technology and similar areas,” she says.

According to her, a true measure of women in tech is to count the women who are technical experts in their fields, who create and innovate in the technical space and are widely regarded as subject matter experts.

And that is why, she believes, she has been able to succeed in her field.

“My biggest professional achievement in technology has been around the fact that I have stayed true to my field,” she adds.

Today, at [24], Vidhya’s team works on predictive models, intent models and building of user profiles from the large amounts of data collected from multiple customer channels. She is leading her team to push the boundaries of innovation in AI – specifically in the customer interaction domain.

She attributes her success to having great mentors and family support. According to her, families, especially parents, need to support girls right from their childhood in pursuing their interest in technology.

The opportunity for women to get into tech, according to Vidhya, is huge. She says that women need to be made aware of the myriad career opportunities that exist in tech, and the great variety of specializations that are available within the broad ambit of tech itself.

Apart from making women aware of the many opportunities that exist, Vidhya believes that the key to having more women in technology is to start instill a love for STEM subjects early on.

“They need to be connected to established women professionals in tech who can play the role of mentors and be role models to these girls. When the love for STEM subjects is instilled at an early age, along with the exposure to rich career opportunities, my hope is that the numbers will rise significantly,” Vidhya says.

But the situation is changing, albeit not as rapidly as we would like, with more women taking on technology disciplines.

In order to get there, Vidhya believes that we need to encourage and celebrate the successes of such women who are leaders, create role models and encourage more girls to study science, math and technology subjects.

“Parents should encourage Advanced Physics and Math classes to have an equal number of girls and boys. As more girls develop a passion for core sciences and math, we will automatically see more women staying truly technical, being scientists, researchers and engineers, solving complex technical problems.  Once we have an equal number of men and women playing those roles in technology firms and research labs, we will have arrived,” Vidhya says.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.